I want us to talk about a very challenge and difficult group of people who are prevalent in society, and often in places of authority. And if you are very unfortunate you may be in a close working or personal relationship with them. And when I say difficult or challenging I mean that they hurt you, deceived you, and left you confused.
In everyday life we often crudely refer to these people as a bitch or asshole. If you take the higher ground then you may simply call them a jerk, challenging, or difficult. The type of people I want to talk about are also often referred to as ego maniacs, but there is a clinical term for them. The clinical term for what I want us to talk about is narcissism or narcissistic.
Sharon Greenthal of The Huffington Post gives us a few symptoms and a brief description:
Some of the symptoms of narcissism include:
- Believing that you’re better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Believing you’re special and acting accordingly
I realize that what I’m about to say seems overly dramatic, but I want you to know that few people on earth can destroy your self-esteem, make your life chaotic, and hurt you like the moderate to extreme narcissist. It is very important to know that you will not win an argument with them, because they have no problem “hitting below the belt” or lying to make a point or get out of trouble. And they won’t hesitate to crush you with direct insults that may have nothing to do with the argument. The following paragraph explains their anger like this:
The anger of narcissists…can be more demeaning. Their criticism evolves from their conviction that others don’t meet their lofty standards-or worse, aren’t letting them get their own way. “Narcissistic injuries,” or wounds to the ego, often pave the way for narcissistic rages, which can be passive-aggressive or planned out, as well as sudden. They are above you and you have displeased them and probably deserve punishment they will dole out. – Psychology Today
You must understand that life is all about them! They want all the attention, all the love, and will do whatever it takes to get it. They will make you believe that they care about you if you feed their ego, but you must know they never get full from swallowing compliments and accolades. In fact, like vodka tonics to an alcoholic, the more they get–the more they want. In other words, they will suck the life out of you!
I think you get the point, a moderate to high level narcissist will make life difficult for everyone. So now comes the difficult question of the day, “Are you a narcissist?” The answer is likely yes on some level. There are definitely levels of narcissism, which Dr. Drew Pinsky discusses in his book, “The Mirror Effect.” He also designed a test for us to see just how narcissistic we may be, which I have copied and pasted below from USAToday. It will also help you evaluate the level of narcissism you may be dealing with that person you recently referred to as an asshole! Because if they are at a high level and refuse to get help you may need to make some difficult decision…unless you enjoy living in hell. It will also help each of us determine if we need to do a little work on ourselves.
So let’s do this, we can all take the test and then come back tomorrow to discuss the results. And for those of us in midlife I want to say that I believe that the higher the score…the more difficult growing older will be us. I will explain more tomorrow, but it is very interesting. So since I’m asking you to take the test it is only fair that I go first. My score was 10, which I believe means I wasn’t completely honest with myself! As you will see, there are only two options and sometimes you must pick the best of the worst (in my opinion). So I’m guessing I’m closer to 12-14. If you obtain a high score don’t panic and label yourself a jerk…the results would need to be looked at more closely. Don’t get me wrong, you might be a jerk, but I just don’t want you to jump to that conclusion (insert goofy smiley face here). Please share your results and comments!
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Choose the statement that best describes you):
1. A. I have a natural talent for influencing people.
B. I am not good at influencing people.
2. A. Modesty doesn’t become me.
B. I am essentially a modest person.
3. A. I would do almost anything on a dare.
B. I tend to be a fairly cautious person.
4. A. When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed.
B. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.
5. A. The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me.
B. If I ruled the world it would be a better place.
6. A. I can usually talk my way out of anything.
B. I try to accept the consequences of my behavior.
7. A. I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
B. I like to be the center of attention.
8. A. I will be a success.
B. I am not too concerned about success.
9. A. I am no better or worse than most people.
B. I think I am a special person.
10. A. I am not sure if I would make a good leader.
B. I see myself as a good leader.
11. A. I am assertive.
B. I wish I were more assertive.
12. A. I like to have authority over other people.
B. I don’t mind following orders.
13. A. I find it easy to manipulate people.
B. I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people.
14. A. I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
B. I usually get the respect that I deserve.
15. A. I don’t particularly like to show off my body.
B. I like to show off my body.
16. A. I can read people like a book.
B. People are sometimes hard to understand.
17. A. If I feel competent I am willing to take responsibility for making decisions.
B. I like to take responsibility for making decisions.
18. A. I just want to be reasonably happy.
B. I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.
19. A. My body is nothing special.
B. I like to look at my body.
20. A. I try not to be a show off.
B. I will usually show off if I get the chance.
21. A. I always know what I am doing.
B. Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing.
22. A. I sometimes depend on people to get things done.
B. I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.
23. A. Sometimes I tell good stories.
B. Everybody likes to hear my stories.
24. A. I expect a great deal from other people.
B. I like to do things for other people.
25. A. I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B. I take my satisfactions as they come.
26. A. Compliments embarrass me.
B. I like to be complimented.
27. A. I have a strong will to power.
B. Power for its own sake doesn’t interest me.
28. A. I don’t care about new fads and fashions.
B. I like to start new fads and fashions.
29. A. I like to look at myself in the mirror.
B. I am not particularly interested in looking at myself in the mirror.
30. A. I really like to be the center of attention.
B. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention.
31. A. I can live my life in any way I want to.
B. People can’t always live their lives in terms of what they want.
32. A. Being an authority doesn’t mean that much to me.
B. People always seem to recognize my authority.
33. A. I would prefer to be a leader.
B. It makes little difference to me whether I am a leader or not.
34. A. I am going to be a great person.
B. I hope I am going to be successful.
35. A. People sometimes believe what I tell them.
B. I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.
36. A. I am a born leader.
B. Leadership is a quality that takes a long time to develop.
37. A. I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
B. I don’t like people to pry into my life for any reason.
38. A. I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public.
B. I don’t mind blending into the crowd when I go out in public.
39. A. I am more capable than other people.
B. There is a lot that I can learn from other people.
40. A. I am much like everybody else.
B. I am an extraordinary person.
Assign one point for each response that matches the key.
1, 2 and 3: A
4, 5: B
9, 10: B
11, 12, 13, 14: A
17, 18, 19, 20: B
22, 23: B
24, 25: A
29, 30, 31: A
33, 34: A
36, 37, 38, 39: A
The average score for the general population is 15.3. The average score for celebrities is 17.8. Pinsky says he scored 16.
Young says it is important to consider which traits are dominant. For example, an overall score that reflects more points on vanity, entitlement, exhibitionism and exploitiveness is more cause for concern than someone who scores high on authority, self-sufficiency and superiority, he says.
The seven component traits by question:
• Authority: 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 32, 33, 36
• Self-sufficiency: 17, 21, 22, 31, 34, 39
• Superiority: 4, 9, 26, 37, 40
• Exhibitionism: 2, 3, 7, 20, 28, 30, 38
• Exploitativeness: 6, 13, 16, 23, 35
• Vanity: 15, 19, 29
• Entitlement: 5, 14, 18, 24, 25, 27